Alumni Legacy Program helps next crop of college searchers

The Bates admission team still remembers the application essay about a table.

The staff was skeptical about the essay at first, Director of Admission Leigh Weisenburger told an attentive group of alums and their kids in an essay-writing workshop on June 11. After all, what is there to say about a dining room table?

Well, the applicant found plenty. She made the table the centerpiece of memories from early childhood — when she would hide under it when it came time to eat her vegetables — all the way to writing her college essay at that same familiar place.

That successful applicant managed to distinguish herself from the masses while saying something revealing. “She came up with something that was fun, creative, lively, and yet deep,” Weisenburger said.

This object lesson was among the heaps of good counsel dispensed during Bates’ inaugural Alumni Legacy Program, designed to help guide Bates alums and their children through the roller-coaster ride that is the college search.

Hallie Balcomb ’14 offers 10 college-search tips gleaned from the inaugural Alumni Legacy Program.

Joining Bates admission staffers for ALP were experts from across the country, including high school counselors (representing Marin Academy in California; The Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut; and New Trier School in Illinois); and admission officials from Duke and Princeton universities, and Pitzer and Colorado colleges.

Held June 10-11, the Alumni Legacy Program formalized a service that Bates Admission has provided to alumni for decades, offering search advice and even opportunities like practice interviews with admission deans.

Over the years, that assistance has generated “great feedback,” said Weisenburger. “The Alumni Legacy Program is a way to broaden that and give them even more by helping their students understand the entire college search process, the mechanics of the application, how they can shape their college list, and more.”

“We want them to know that Admission professionals are real people, approachable and here to help.” And ALP defines the successful search as finding the right college for each son and daughter — whether or not that institution is Bates.

Mark Hatch ’87, vice president for enrollment at Colorado College, offers welcoming remarks in the Olin Concert Hall during the first day of the 2012 Alumni Legacy Program. Photograph by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

ALP also sends a message to the world at large. While this year’s model was a first for Bates, the concept has been proven at other schools such as Amherst, Princeton, Smith and Davidson, to name just a few. As Bates has emerged as a national leader in admission and financial aid practices, the time was right for the college to roll out its own version.

Overlapping with Reunion, ALP began on Sunday with welcoming remarks by Mark Hatch ’87, vice president of enrollment at Colorado College, and a panel presentation by seven admission authorities from across the country.

Monday’s workshops followed the order of the college search itself, beginning with “How to Make the Most of Your High School Career” and wrapping up with “Affording College.” Along the way, noted Weisenburger, “each student received a personal counseling session with someone from Bates Admission.”

Lisa Klingler Looke ’87 of the Down East village of Blue Hill brought son Loriman, a sophomore at George Stevens Academy. The program, she said, provided a “great opportunity for him to be on a college campus.”

ALP also was “a nice introduction to what’s coming, without the pressure. It was a chance to get answers to those first questions that get lost in the shuffle but end up being important during the search.”